Report: Former Miami Heat favorite’s availability being monitored by playoff contenders

P.J. Tucker has fallen out of the LA Clippers rotation. Should the Miami Heat pursue a reunion with their former starting power forward?
Los Angeles Clippers v Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Clippers v Los Angeles Lakers / Katelyn Mulcahy/GettyImages

P.J. Tucker’s stint didn’t last long, but in his lone season with the Miami Heat he was a key part of the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

It’s possible Tucker could be on Miami’s radar for a potential reunion. According to NBA Insider Marc Stein, Tucker could be a candidate to be traded later this season. In that case, several contenders could be interested in Tucker’s services.

“Various playoff contenders have taken note of the very limited minutes P.J. Tucker is getting since he was dealt to the LA Clippers as part of the James Harden trade and are waiting (hoping?) that Tucker is made available this winter,” Stein wrote in his Substack. “Since a 22-minute stint against New Orleans on Nov. 24, Tucker has seen less than 14 minutes of court time in the Clippers’ past seven games, which includes a run of five successive DNP-CDs.”

Tucker opted out of his contract with the Heat in 2022 and signed a three-year, $33 million deal with the Philadelphia 76ers. Last month, Tucker was part of the trade that sent James Harden from Philadelphia. As Stein wrote, he’s played very little since joining LA and is now out of the rotation.

Trading for Tucker would mean taking on his $11 million salary for this season and $11.5 million player option for next season. That is quite a bit of money for a 38-year-old who has had trouble cracking the rotation of a playoff contender.

While a buyout could be explored, that would mean Tucker either waiving his player option in the final year of his contract (doubtful) or the Clippers decided to eat a majority of the $22 million remaining on his deal (also doubtful). 

Tucker averaged 7.6 points on 41.5% shooting from 3-point range, 5.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists in his lone season in Miami. He started 70 games at power forward for the No. 1 seed in the East, helping the Heat get to within a Jimmy Butler missed 3-pointer of making the Finals.

But given the expensive salary that the Heat were not willing to pay when he was a free agent in 2022 and the unlikelihood of a buyout, a reunion between Tucker and the Heat seems doubtful.